Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

FBI questions several New Jerseyans in terrorist attack investigation

September 16, 2001


— The FBI on Sunday interviewed a man who surrendered to police after learning authorities wanted him for questioning in Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

The man was one of at least 13 New Jerseyans who have been taken into custody in the investigation of the plane hijackings that destroyed the World Trade Center towers and damaged the Pentagon.

FBI Special Agent Sandra Carroll said no federal charges had been filed against the men but "nobody's really discounted at this point."

Agents on Sunday questioned Matt Mehmeti, who lived in a Seaside Heights motel during the summer. He turned himself in to New York police after learning that the FBI had searched for him at the now-vacant Thunderbird Motel.

On Saturday, agents raided a Jersey City apartment believed to be the home of two men who were detained in Texas.

The men, Ayub Ali Khan, 51, and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, 47, were removed from an Amtrak train during a routine drug search Wednesday night. No drugs were found, but the men had box-cutting knives and about $5,000 in cash, according to a federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hijackers in Tuesday's attacks used knives and box cutters to commandeer the four airliners that slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a forested area of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Two men detained at the Jersey City apartment on Saturday also were being questioned, said Special Agent Sherri Evanini.

The FBI didn't disclose their names or nationalities. But Sousan Achou, 30, said Sunday that agents had not returned her husband, Abdusalam, a bakery truck driver, after discovering his visa had expired 20 days ago.

Achou lives next to Azmath's and Khan's apartment. She said the pair shared the apartment with a third man, who hasn't been seen since Tuesday's attacks.

The Jersey City neighborhood is the same one where Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind sheik convicted of plotting the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and of other New York City landmarks, preached.

The FBI has said that two of the 19 hijackers it identified, Nawaq Alhamzi and Salem Alhamzi, used Fort Lee and Wayne mailbox drop addresses. A third, Saeed Alghamdi, rented a condominium in Florham Park from 1988 to late 1991, said apartment owner James Beck.

The FBI said the three were aboard United Flight 93, which left Newark, N.J., for San Francisco but crashed in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Also in custody were three Passaic men who were stopped Thursday carrying more than $11,000 and a one-way plane ticket to Damascus, Syria, FBI officials said.

The U.S. Embassy in Athens on Sunday said the three were being held on immigration matters unrelated to the terrorist attacks, but Carroll said the men could not be discounted in the hijackings.

Agents also detained five men in East Rutherford hours after Tuesday's terrorist attacks. INS spokesman Kerry Gill would not say on Sunday whether the men were still in custody.

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